You can't keep a nine-year-old away from the Internet forever, but you can steer the little surfer in a good direction: At www.wackykids.org, she'll find nothing but good, clean fun -- all with the added attraction of being painlessly educational. Featuring four clickable areas of interest that draw content from museum collections -- The World of Japan's Samurai Warrior, Maya Rainforest Dwellers, Northwest Coast Indian Carving and Fancy and Fun Chairs -- the site offers various activities centered around each, including a reading list, interactive exploration of the subject and print-out craft projects. And next time your kid visits the museum in person, she'll recognize a few friends, to boot.
Those kooky visionaries Bill and Judy Petersen-Fleming didn't need to put up a glitzy building for their new-age-style aquarium, Colorado's Ocean Journey, but they did, hiring the specially created architectural firm Odyssea, which put forward a design by the able Ron Mason of Denver's Anderson Mason Dale. Nor did the creators of the private facility need to put in a public-art component, but again, they did. And that's laudable, as is the art they selected (not a single bronze dolphin!). Instead, everything inside and out is abstract and as up-to-date as the glittering building itself. All of the art is good, but the multi-part installation "Full Fathom Five" is great. Created by Connecticut artist Tim Prentice, the wall- and ceiling-hung installations, made of shiny steel tubes and aluminum sheeting, match perfectly the futuristic mood of the architecture while referring to the sea: Made up of hundreds of tiny squares of metal, the sculptures move gently, like swimming fish. Colorado's Ocean Journey has had some trouble with credibility in its first year, but although animal activists -- and the institution's own volunteers -- may be carping, there's nothing but praise for the art that's on display.

Readers' choice: "Ground Beef," Burns Park

Those kooky visionaries Bill and Judy Petersen-Fleming didn't need to put up a glitzy building for their new-age-style aquarium, Colorado's Ocean Journey, but they did, hiring the specially created architectural firm Odyssea, which put forward a design by the able Ron Mason of Denver's Anderson Mason Dale. Nor did the creators of the private facility need to put in a public-art component, but again, they did. And that's laudable, as is the art they selected (not a single bronze dolphin!). Instead, everything inside and out is abstract and as up-to-date as the glittering building itself. All of the art is good, but the multi-part installation "Full Fathom Five" is great. Created by Connecticut artist Tim Prentice, the wall- and ceiling-hung installations, made of shiny steel tubes and aluminum sheeting, match perfectly the futuristic mood of the architecture while referring to the sea: Made up of hundreds of tiny squares of metal, the sculptures move gently, like swimming fish. Colorado's Ocean Journey has had some trouble with credibility in its first year, but although animal activists -- and the institution's own volunteers -- may be carping, there's nothing but praise for the art that's on display.

Readers' choice: "Ground Beef," Burns Park

The big blockbuster show, once a rarity, is now common fare at the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, the museum formerly known as the Denver Museum of Natural History, and even the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Well, they need to beef up those attendance numbers, don't they? Among these big shows, one stands out above the others: the recently closed Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art at the Denver Art Museum. The show highlighted the collection of a pair of wealthy lesbian spinsters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone, who put together a major selection of Matisse paintings, some purchased directly from the master himself. Not surprisingly, among the Matisses bought by the Cones were those that took up the topic of the female nude. First among these is the "Blue Nude" from 1907, which means that aside from being the best major show this past year, Matisse also featured the best painting to have ever been exhibited in Colorado.

Readers' choice: Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art

The big blockbuster show, once a rarity, is now common fare at the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, the museum formerly known as the Denver Museum of Natural History, and even the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Well, they need to beef up those attendance numbers, don't they? Among these big shows, one stands out above the others: the recently closed Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art at the Denver Art Museum. The show highlighted the collection of a pair of wealthy lesbian spinsters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone, who put together a major selection of Matisse paintings, some purchased directly from the master himself. Not surprisingly, among the Matisses bought by the Cones were those that took up the topic of the female nude. First among these is the "Blue Nude" from 1907, which means that aside from being the best major show this past year, Matisse also featured the best painting to have ever been exhibited in Colorado.

Readers' choice: Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art

Best political use of an art show to get a bigger building

Impressionism Denver Art Museum

Last November, the Denver Art Museum asked voters for a $60 million-plus capital-improvement bond to pay for the construction of a new, freestanding wing. So how could the DAM make the case that it needed the money because it was too damned small? Museum helmsman Lewis Sharp went out and scored Impressionism, a traveling show that broke all of the museum's previous attendance records with more than a quarter of a million visitors craning their necks to see Monets, Cassatts, Gauguins and Van Goghs that had come from museums all over Europe. Denver art enthusiasts not only crowded the Hamilton Galleries on the main floor, but they crowded the rest of the museum as well, and Acoma Plaza outside, and they paralyzed traffic on the West 14th Avenue Parkway. And, yes, they also went out and gave the DAM a landslide in its bond election. The political maneuvering through exhibition scheduling was just the first in a series of brilliant moves on Sharp's part. Another was his decision to look for a master architect to design a world-class building, just as the DAM had done before when it built its current 1971 edifice, which was designed by Italian legend Gio Ponti with local genius James Sudler. Thanks to Impressionism, that new DAM wing will surely be one of the best new buildings to rise on the Denver skyline in decades.

Best political use of an art show to get a bigger building

Impressionism Denver Art Museum

Last November, the Denver Art Museum asked voters for a $60 million-plus capital-improvement bond to pay for the construction of a new, freestanding wing. So how could the DAM make the case that it needed the money because it was too damned small? Museum helmsman Lewis Sharp went out and scored Impressionism, a traveling show that broke all of the museum's previous attendance records with more than a quarter of a million visitors craning their necks to see Monets, Cassatts, Gauguins and Van Goghs that had come from museums all over Europe. Denver art enthusiasts not only crowded the Hamilton Galleries on the main floor, but they crowded the rest of the museum as well, and Acoma Plaza outside, and they paralyzed traffic on the West 14th Avenue Parkway. And, yes, they also went out and gave the DAM a landslide in its bond election. The political maneuvering through exhibition scheduling was just the first in a series of brilliant moves on Sharp's part. Another was his decision to look for a master architect to design a world-class building, just as the DAM had done before when it built its current 1971 edifice, which was designed by Italian legend Gio Ponti with local genius James Sudler. Thanks to Impressionism, that new DAM wing will surely be one of the best new buildings to rise on the Denver skyline in decades.

Best thing to ever happen to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Director Mark Masuoka

In the brief but checkered history of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the fledgling institution, housed in a former fish market, has mostly floundered. But its lack of direction began to change with the dawn of the year 2000, when Mark Masuoka took over as the museum's director. Masuoka had come to town just a year before to take over the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus; he'd barely gotten settled in there when he was offered the MoCAD gig. And he immediately began to turn the place around, establishing the floor plan of the galleries, moving the gift shop, painting, building an information desk, and launching a program in which three shows will run simultaneously instead of only one, as was the previous practice. After a period of confusion, it looks like the MoCAD board finally found some clarity and made its best decision so far: bringing Masuoka on board.

Best thing to ever happen to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Director Mark Masuoka

In the brief but checkered history of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the fledgling institution, housed in a former fish market, has mostly floundered. But its lack of direction began to change with the dawn of the year 2000, when Mark Masuoka took over as the museum's director. Masuoka had come to town just a year before to take over the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus; he'd barely gotten settled in there when he was offered the MoCAD gig. And he immediately began to turn the place around, establishing the floor plan of the galleries, moving the gift shop, painting, building an information desk, and launching a program in which three shows will run simultaneously instead of only one, as was the previous practice. After a period of confusion, it looks like the MoCAD board finally found some clarity and made its best decision so far: bringing Masuoka on board.

Best opportunity to catch up on the latest international art buzz

Contemporary British Artists Denver Art Museum

Last year, new British art made the scandal sheets by outraging New Yorkers when it was shown at the Brooklyn Museum. But months before that, many of the same artists seen in the Big Apple were part of a show right here in the Mile High City. Unlike the exhibit in New York, Contemporary British Artists came and went at the Denver Art Museum without raising nary an eyebrow. Before politics distracted us from the primary aesthetic experience, it was possible to see the work of British youth, from the notorious Damien Hirst to the cerebral Jason Martin, just like back East. Also in the show, which was organized by DAM curator Dianne Vanderlip in collaboration with former assistant curator Jane Fudge, were many older artists -- notably the neo-pop pair Gilbert and George. The show was clearly one of the best -- and obviously one of the most timely -- of a raft of British Invasion shows the DAM has put on in the past few years.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of